Signed In Blood


asi_icon.gif kaylee6_icon.gif pride2_icon.gif

Scene Title Signed In Blood
Synopsis A special delivery arrives at Raytech Industries, one which may unravel at least one mystery regarding the blood of the Sundered.
Date November 21, 2020

Raytech Industries Campus

From: moc.hcetyar|nujnewj#moc.hcetyar|nujnewj
To: moc.hcetyar|rehctahtk#moc.hcetyar|rehctahtk
Subject: Re: Search the shadows

I have results from the research you asked me to conduct.

Meet me in Dr. Pride's lab at 4? I have a feeling she will be interested in it as well.

Dr. Pride did not get such a warning.

Instead, two minutes to the turn of the appointed hour, the door to her lab pushes in, and the person who enters does not number among her usual coworkers. Asi Tetsuyama is a face Ourania typically avoids, and that's a strategy that's suited her well in the time she's worked again at Raytech. Apart from the one time they shared an elevator together, avoiding the technopath's line of sight in the building had been relatively easy. They stuck to their own loops which coincidentally kept them separate from each other.

But here she is now, a bulky package resting on her hip bearing neither of their names. The black blazer she wears over a white blouse lends her to look leagues more professional than the last time they spoke directly. Her attitude, however, is just the same.

"Pride, I need to borrow you for a moment."

Un instant,” Pride murmurs distractedly from where she’s carefully applying some clear liquid from a dropper into a vial that almost certainly contains blood. One. Two. Three.Voilà!” The blonde caps the vial to keep its contents from contamination and sets the dropper aside on a tray. She smiles with satisfaction and turns in her seat to see who’s come to visit her.

The smile fades in an instant. “Oh!” She recovers quickly, blinking away the surprise. “Sorry, I was expecting someone else.” Dr. Pride pushes up from her seat to start gathering up various hand-written notes from her workbench, stacking them as neatly as she can and setting them next to her computer on the other side of the room. Other than that little bit of clutter and the station she was working at, there’s not much to the laboratory claimed by her that really seems to make it hers. There are no photos, no baubles, no personalizations of any sort. Given Pride’s reputation of keeping to herself, perhaps that’s not all that surprising.

“How can I help you?”

Does she know? Pride has a smile firmly affixed, but her mind is already running through the scenarios here. How would she weasel her way out if it turns out Tetsuyama is on to her? It’s with a distracted sort of air that she picks up her phone from her desk and checks the time.

“She’s bringing us a gift,” says Kaylee, arriving not long after Asi and soon enough to hear the question. “I hope.” She looks a bit worse for wear - her normal style right now - and wearing a pair of mirrored shades inside to cover the severely bloodshot eye.

“I’m so glad you emailed me, I was starting to wonder if we assumed wrong.” She offers Asi a strained, yet hopeful smile. Attention quickly falls to the package resting on the other woman’s hip. “With hope this will give us more of a direction, before something else happens to us all.”

What happened to Kaylee and others of their ‘exclusive’ group wasn’t a secret in the halls of Raytech, since her screams had woken up many of the residents, until they sedated her and the world stopped spinning like an uncontrolled top.

The 'moment' that Pride needs suits Asi just fine. "Prenez votre temps," she offers up without sarcasm when it becomes clear that she's finishing something up. It whiles away the moments until Kaylee's scheduled to arrive, and when she does, Asi returns her smile with a rare one of her own. The package is shifted off of her hip to one of the tables in the lab, and despite announcing she needed Pride's help, her attention is entirely on Kaylee now.

"You recall I said I could find no one selling, but plenty interested in obtaining what we discussed?" she leads with, her brows arching. She's sure Kaylee recalls the disappointment, the seeming dead-end quite well. The former technopath lets her head tilt to the side. "There was one exception I was able to find after all— one source."

The box on the table reads This Side Up from the side, but it's the top that Asi pats. "And as for the party looking to purchase from them?"

"Us," she declares lightly, stepping away from the table. The label on top of the box— which is lighter than expected but surely filled with temperature-controlling stuffing and chillpacks— reads InVerse Technologies in white paint. It's addressed to the care of a Ju Wenjun at this very building.

Arms folding, she looks from Kaylee now finally to Pride as well. "I expensed this cost, by the way. They would only accept legitimate sources attempting to purchase, so Raytech credentials and account numbers were required." With a mirthful quirk of her head, she intones, "I figured you wouldn't mind."

Je ne savais pas que tu parlais français.” Now that she’s slipped into that mode of casual French, Pride seems to have some difficulty shifting away from it. There’s a note of pleasant surprise to her voice, like she’s pleased to find someone she might be able to hold a conversation with.

“Kaylee.” Pride flashes a smile to the other blonde when they catch each other’s eye, but doesn’t presume to say much to her otherwise. Not in front of Asi, who remains an unknown integer to her in this equation. Still, her friend’s presence does much to calm her nerves.

The scientist’s head tips curiously at the package. She certainly recognizes the name. A gift, Kaylee calls it. “Vraiment?” Her tone is light, inquisitive. “Qu'est-ce que c'est?” Dr. Pride sets down her phone and instead picks up a pair of black framed spectacles, sliding them onto her face and peering expectantly at Asi.

Seeing the name on the label, Kaylee gives a small hiss between her teeth. “InVerse Technologies. Shit.” That wasn’t a good name to find on the box, “Not sure this is what we hope it is… They were looking to Raytech for a partnership, so they know us.” A phone is pulled from her back pocket and a picture snapped. Also, her enthusiasm over this Black Market wanes a bit, since blood is one of their things. “Of course, this could be someone just using the name as a cover.”

Still Kaylee dared to hope for a lead.

Lips press into a line as Kaylee looks at Ourania, from across the box. “You want to do the honors, doctor?” Seeing as she is the one that would be testing what was within.

What's in the box? "Blood," Asi answers, unapologetically in English this time. She might speak French, but clarity was important here. She glances briefly to Pride and then back to the box. "Synthetic blood, universal in type. It's unique to the market, and might have answers regarding our blood, once analyzed."

For all her cool exterior, patience to let Ourania set the pace— a tense anxiety drives her gaze on the box. The lure of answers which might be found within, which might help fill the crumbling hollow within her soul. She's as desperate for them as Kaylee is, quietly resigned that she isn't someone who can help this process any further than she already has.

She brought the synthetic blood for examination. She tries to content herself with the knowledge that that itself was no easy task.

And Ourania slips back to English just as easily, the earlier accent banished. “Now that is something,” she says appreciatively, eyes a little larger now than they were a moment ago. She wastes no time in opening up the package and cracking the lid to first inspect that the samples are undamaged.

“We— Well, I might be able to see some similarities between this and the samples I’ve collected from your cohort,” Pride confirms. She lifts her head to study Asi for a moment, rolling her emotional state over briefly before deferring to Kaylee. “I’m allowed to take this to KC for study, yes?”

“Of course,” Kaylee says with a nod of her head and motions at the box, “Overturn every stone, sooner or later we’ve got to find the rats.” Thought that last is said with a sigh, one hand moving to rub at the back of her neck.

“I feel like we have an expiration date now,” Kaylee says as she removes the sunglasses, letting them see the eye with it’s blood red sclera, which makes the blue of her iris pop some. “If we can’t figure what’s going on or who’s doing it, it’s going to get worse.”

Kaylee swallows and turns her attention to the sunglasses in her hands, “Since we learned about the blood, I’ve been doing my own research. I know for a fact InVerse has been working on developing adaptive blood, so they could have had a breakthrough - that’s some serious bucks there - but…” She looks between both women as she counts off more names. “So has Crito Corp, Celerity Industries, and Renautas-Weiss Nanotechnologies. The suspect list is full of a lot of heavy hitters.” There is a grimace.

"For all we know Mazdak is responsible for what we are,” Kaylee adds with a lopsided smirk devoid of humor to Asi.

Asi has been eager for months to blame Mazdak, but she doesn't look relieved to hear Kaylee's concession regarding the potential perpetrators of what's happened to them.

"I'm not so sure anymore, Kaylee," she mutters, her eyes drifting away from the conversation in absent thought. "An organization with the goals they have… it made sense at first, until this event. Until Miller let medical doctors dig around in his head and they found a chip that does fuck knows what." Her time spent with Wolfhound really is brushing off on her, with the emphasis and careful renunciation of every other word. Not to mention the colorful swear words peppered in.

"Mazdak would have been the type to cut and run, let us deteriorate after throwing us back to the wild. We've already ruled out what happened being Gemini, or I would be obligated to point out that process does not involve microchipping its patients."

Asi lets out a slow sigh, heavy but not tired. "I agree we're on a clock now. I don't know if those of us who came out safely were the flukes in what happened November 8th, but it's definitely…" She dithers on a precise word, one hand lifting to rub at her forehead idly. Now seems as good a time as any to reiterate, "I plan on getting mine removed as soon as possible. Fuck the side effects. Between what Miller is dealing with and what you yourself went through, Kaylee, I know what I choose." She shoots a brief look of apology her way for saying so.

There’s no veiling of concern on Ourania’s part to see Kaylee’s eye so blood-tinged still after this long. She takes a steadying breath, focuses on the theories presented. “You’re not wrong.” About the heavy hitters. “It would be one hell of a discovery. Money aside, it would make the name of any scientist who was part of that team.” Prestige is a powerful motivator in the world she’s at least peripherally a part of. Even if her track record — as Asi’s discovered — does not revolve around the publish or perish mentality.

Brain surgery is not my forte,” Dr. Pride admits. “But if you would like an interested party present for observation…” If she can watch over the procedure performed on Asi, that will give her more confidence in the process being applied to others she has a stronger connection to. That thought makes her gaze shift back to Kaylee.

“But as for what I can do, I’ll bring these samples along with me to KC and see what I can see. This should… It should prove fruitful. If there’s similarity to be found between what I’ve found in your blood and what exists in this synthetic…” The scientist smiles, showing her namesake emotion. “I’ll find it. I can do that much.”

“I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet,” Kaylee says blandly. Being one of those that did experience that insanity, she's been extremely hesitant. “For all we know those chips and nanobots are what’s keeping us alive.” For all the bravery the woman shows in the face of external dangers, the surgery was making her nervous. Especially because of her son.

Lips pressed tightly in thought Kaylee says, “I wish there was someone who could have done the extraction away from the hospital and prying DoE eyes.” Then they could study the damn thing and not have it whisked away. Kaylee gives a bitter laugh, “Listen to me… Maybe, I’m not made for law enforcement.”

But before anyone can say anything, Kaylee waves her hand to dismiss it. “Thank you, Dr. Pride. Your work has been a huge help. At least, we’ve gotten some answers even if we don't know the who and why yet. We’ll keep fingers crossed that you get more in Kansas.”

That turns Asi's head. KC didn't ring any bells for her, but Kansas is more clearly understood. She's traveling to the capital to do some studies on their blood?…

Suspicion and distrust begins to curl her mouth back into a stern frown, but she says nothing. Her policy on the subject of Ourania Pride is to exercise trust in Kaylee's judgment. For better— or for worse.

"Perhaps," she intones in response to the subject of the chip and bots. "But …"

Her thoughts veer hard left as she skirts too close to a consideration that drags her in with all the gravity of a black hole. Asi's train of thought, and her emotional state, go sailing off the end of the tracks— hovering impossibly for a moment as speed outruns gravity, and then begins to sink rapidly an eternity of an instant later.

She still doesn't know what to do with the thought they really may not be themselves after all, and isn't ready to make peace with that yet. Come to think of it, she's afraid that Pride's comparison of the blood will find that it's fully-synthetic. That maybe everything about them is.

But at least it'll be an answer. A confirmation rather than a suspicion.

"I don't think you have any samples from me," Asi notes abruptly as she returns from wherever her thoughts had wandered to. She turns to Pride, eyes hollow and her emotional state numb as she lets go of fear and hope both. "Would it be useful to take one before your trip? I didn't experience what Kaylee and Miller did."

It takes everything in Pride not to reach out and wrap Kaylee into a hug. She wants so bad to console her and tell her that it’s going to be okay, that she’ll find a way to fix this. But she doesn’t dare show that level of familiarity in front of Asi.

Instead, she turns to the subject at hand, feeling the weight of those emotions of Asi’s in her own chest. Of course this whole thing is terrifying. There’s so much unknown, and it’s easy enough for her to stand outside the mystery and pick and tease it apart with the appreciation of a scientist’s mind. If she were living it, Ourania knows it would be a drastically different situation.

“Yes,” she says finally. “I think that it would be beneficial to have samples from those unaffected by… that incident for comparison. If you have the time now, I could do that. It won’t take long, and Ms Thatcher can tell you I make it as painless as possible.” Dr. Pride smiles in a way she hopes is reassuring. “I’ll have samples from Dr. Miller’s wife, Dr. Yeh, and Jac as well. And my own to establish a baseline for control. If there’s anyone else who’d like to provide samples for analysis, I’m happy to make time for them tomorrow.”

“Dr. Pride is indeed good at what she does,” Kaylee confirms with a look at the scientist. “By the way, do you want another pint from me?” she jokes, turning her inner elbow towards the doctor with a half of a smirk. “Might as well see if my blood changed with the stroke. Be interesting to see if this stroke causes any changes to the blood.”

Asi nods at the affirmative response to her question, the rest of what's said going in one ear and catching in the mud in her head. Perhaps she'd have been fine without the reassurances regarding making the experience as painless as possible, a certain amount of 我慢しなきゃ felt about the matter, but now the unpleasantness is inadvertently focused upon.

"Sure," she answers distantly, slipping off her blazer and lying it next to the package. There are no additional or proverbial sleeves to roll up after that. Her uncertainty and discomfort muddy her mind less as she offers Kaylee a small smile when she asks to jump in on it, too.

"Well," Asi supposes a bit more gamely. "At least I'll be in good company."

“You could be right,” Ourania murmurs to Kaylee. “I want to grab you fasting, though. So hit me up tomorrow before breakfast, okay?” She wags a finger at the other blonde so that she knows she’s serious. All while she moves to a cabinet set into the wall so she can grab her supplies.

She knows a needle phobia when she sees one, so everything is slipped into the pocket of her lab coat before she turns around, sparing Asi the sight and the build up of tension for having it. Sitting down on her rolling chair, she pulls out a band made of rubber first. “Make a fist,” she requests gently. Giving an encouraging smile that she makes sure Asi will catch, she tips her head toward Kaylee. Look over there.

The band is tied tight around her upper arm. “This is going to be a breeze,” Dr. Pride promises only after she’s sure she sees a good vein. “Now, tell us about the town you were born in.”

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